Street Cred: Advertising for the People


Bad News Bruce - Posted on 28 January 2014

About Street Cred

Street Cred is a project of Bay Area Art Queers Unleashing Power (BAAQUP).  BAAQUP s a loose collective of arts activists with a long history of liberating public spaces and creating images to challenge the control of our lives by corporations, government and the assumptions promoted by mass media.  Our use of “unleashing power” is a homage to ACT UP – the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, a powerful direct action movement which many of us participated in during the late eighties and early nineties.
 
Street Cred’s public art campaigns disturb the status quo by shaking up people’s consciousness.  Our goal is to raise all of our spirits through creative resistance.  We are always looking to hook up with other groups of artists and activists, so that together we may blossom into a full-fledged force for social change.
 
Subcomandante Marcos, the voice of the Zapatista revolution, speaks of a project that “globalizes rebellion, hope, creativity, intelligence, imagination, life, memory and building a world where many worlds fit.”  That is the project our work strives to mirror and be part of.
We are Advertising for the People.  We challenge the hegemony of corporate messaging and reclaim advertising spaces to create unmediated dialogue with our community.
 
Where art is possible, change is possible.  If we can change the images on our streets, we can change our reality as well.
 
Focus:  Justice For Palestine
Street Cred works on a wide range of issues, including immigrant rights, economic equality and queer liberation.  The struggle of Palestinians for justice is particularly important to all of us.  Some of us have lived there; many of us are Arab and/or Jewish and feel personal connections to the issue.  Primarily, we focus much of our work on the Palestinian struggle to amplify the ongoing creative resistance of the Palestinian people.  As the Soweto uprising in 1976 sparked a worldwide movement that finally dismantled South African apartheid after 40 years, so the Second Intifada, which began in 2000, has made the Palestinian struggle the iconic social justice movement of this century so far.  Palestinians have steadfastly resisted colonization for over 100 years.  The time for their freedom is now.
 
Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
The 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel has given social justice proponents around the world a powerful set of tools to pressure the Israeli government and our own (the United States sends more than $14 million a day of our tax money to the Israeli state, most of it for weapons) to end apartheid and land theft.  The BDS movement has been the catalyst for a dynamic outpouring of energy by tens of thousands of activists in hundreds of communities in every corner of the world.  We seek to honor and promote that work, and are propel it forward.
 
Consumer Boycott
The consumer boycott brings BDS to street level.  When a boycott catches fire, like the grape boycott organized by the United Farm Workers in the 1970s, the boycott of Barclays, Bank of America and other banks funding apartheid in the 1980s, or the boycott of the West Bank settlement product SodaStream, in the last year, it confronts each individual with the choice: am I for justice or will I close my eyes for the sake of comfort and convenience?  Though the economic impact of most consumer boycotts is small, its political power is enormous because of its ability to involve masses of people sending a clear message to governments and corporations.
 
The Swedish clothing manufacturer H&M opened its first two stores in Israel in 2010, despite pressure from the active Swedish Palestine solidarity movement to live up to its corporate responsibility rhetoric.  Swedish activists launched a massive campaign involving flash mobs, alternative price tags, fashion shows, op-eds, petitions, and many other forms of outreach and pressure.  We had just heard about the Swedish campaign when we started seeing these H&M ads all over town, and decided they were ripe for remaking.
 
Hewlett Packard (HP), a multinational corporation based in Palo Alto, manufactures the “Basel System” technology utilized by the Israeli army at checkpoints in the West Bank and the entrances to besieged Gaza.  The checkpoints restrict Palestinian freedom of movement; they keep students from getting to school and workers from reaching their jobs, restrict farmers’ access to their land, enforce separations between families, and often make it impossible for Palestinians to access necessary medical care.  The role HP is playing in Israel is very similar to that played by IBM and Polaroid in South Africa, which used their technologies to control the movement of Africans.  As documented in the PBS series, “Have You Heard from Johannesburg,” the boycott and divestment campaign initiated by Polaroid workers was the first major anti-apartheid BDS campaign in the United States.
 
Academic and Cultural Boycott
The cultural and academic boycott was launched by the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in 2004, building on a 2002 statement by Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the occupied territories and in the Diaspora calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in October 2003.  The cultural boycott of South Africa, epitomized by the “Don’t Play Sun City” campaign, was one of the most widely recognized elements of the movement which ended South African Apartheid.
 
This is one of the fastest-growing aspects of the current BDS movement.  In San Francisco, one of the most active cultural boycott campaigns has targeted the Frameline film festival, which is one of the world’s oldest and largest LGBT cultural institutions.  The Israeli government aggressively promotes queer Israeli films, which would be great if they were truly interested in queer liberation.  Instead, the Israeli government is using its queer-friendly veneer to distract from its oppression of all non-Jewish residents regardless of sexuality and gender identity.  Street Cred/BAAQUP helped to popularize the term “pinkwashing” (with apologies to Breast Cancer Action) to describe this disinformation.
 
In 2010, the three Palestinian queer organizations issued a call for international queer institutions to stop partnering with the Israeli state and its institutions.
 
A member of Al Qaws For Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestine writes, “Pinkwashing strips away our voices, history and agency, telling the world that Israel knows what is best for us. By targeting pinkwashing we are reclaiming our agency, history, voices and bodies, telling the world what we want and how to support us.”
 
We Encourage You To Take To The Streets!!
We can’t be that specific about all the techniques we use, but we can tell you all it takes is determination and friends.  
 
For more information, please visit our website:  baqup.wordpress.com
Facebook:  Street Cred

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